Do You Want Your Receipt?


Next time you make a purchase and the cashier asks if you want the receipt, you might want to say “no thanks!” because that receipt could make you sick. No, I’m not talking about the germs that might be on that tiny piece of paper, I’m talking about the toxic synthetic chemical known as bisphenol A (BPA).

Turns out the thermal printers used to print out those receipts use bisphenol A which is absorbed through the skin. Bisphenol A is a potent carcinogen, and neurotoxic  chemical, that has been linked to over 50 adverse health effects.

And while you’re thinking about how much you’ve been exposed over the years of being handed receipts, think about the poor cashier who has to hand one to every customer who comes through her line, all day long.

Additionally, it has been shown the absorption greatly increases when the BPA is mixed with certain other substances like hand sanitizers which many cashiers use often throughout the day to protect themselves from the germs on the money they handle.

You can read more about this issue in a report published by 

The abstract is entitled “Bisphenol A, Bisphenol S, and 4-Hydroxyphenyl 4-Isoprooxyphenylsulfone (BPSIP) in Urine and Blood of Cashiers

The Renewed Awareness of the Dangers of BPA

Turns out that it isn’t just babies that are at risk with BPA (bisphenol A) from their baby bottles; a new study from the journal PloS One concludes that BPA is also a very real concern in the fight against heart disease.

BPA is routinely used in polycarbonate plastic, including baby bottles, water bottles as well as used as a lining in soft drink cans. Bottom line… it’s pretty hard to not be exposed to the stuff. Recent changes have sought to ban BPA from baby bottles but the general consensus was that BPA in other plastic containers didn’t really pose a serious threat to the health of adults. Think again.

Tips for avoiding BPA:

  1. Look for the number 3, 6 or 7 on the bottom of all hard plastic containers (that includes baby bottles, sippy cups, food containers, water bottles, etc…). Avoid any and all containers with these numbers as they usually (not always but most of the time) denotes the use of BPA in the polycarbonate.
  2. Check your food containers. It doesn’t do a lot of good to avoid BPA and then store your leftovers in BPA contaminated Tupperwares and food containers.
  3. Never microwave in plastic containers.
  4. Do not run your plastic containers in the dishwasher. The high heat of the dishwasher accelerates the BPA leaching.
  5. Many companies are now labeling their polycarbonate plastic to make it clear if it is BPA-free. Get an aluminum or BPA free water bottle. You’ll keep BPA out of your system and help save the environment at the same time (those plastic water bottles end up making up a big part of the landfill and they take an eternity to decompose, leaching chemicals and other harmful substances in the process).
  6. Avoid canned goods as much as possible. Many cans are lined with epoxy resins to keep the metal from corroding. This lining often contains BPA. As manufacturers get onboard, you will find more and more cans that are labeled as “BPA free”, but these changes always take time.
  7. Try taking folic acid. Some recent studies seem to indicate that folic acid helps protect fetuses against the negative effects of BPA. It might also help protect you. Even if it doesn’t help to protect against BPA, it’s good for you and you probably could benefit from taken folic acid which is a form of B vitamin.

There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered with regards to BPA. Because of its properties, it is routinely used in many, many polycarbonates to add strength. Banning it altogether would, some argue, result in less effective protection, especially in sports products and certain safety products. BPA, they argue, is only a problem if it is somehow ingested and should, therefore be allowed in products that do not come into contact with food or drink.

The first step, one that is increasingly being taken, is to eliminate BPA from any and all food and drink related products. Once that has been done standard urine test results can show if we are still being exposed to BPA and appropriate steps and measures can then be taken. Meanwhile, alternates that are just as strong and safe will need to be discovered and produced. The ultimate goal is to eliminate BPA altogether.

Continued exposure to BPA linked to Male Sexual Dysfunction

A new study reported by Oxford Journals ( and available in a downloadable pdf here, a link has been found between bisphenol-A (BPA) and adverse effects on male sexual dysfunction.

BPA is present in many plastics, epoxy resins and polycarbonates from plastic drinking bottles and baby bottles to some dental sealants. Routine urine tests have found that most people are exposed to some levels of BPA. As quoted from the article In a national sample of the US population, more than 90% of spot urine samples had detectable BPA with a median urine level of 2.7 mg/l (Calafat et al.,2005; Calafat et al., 2008; National Toxicology Program, 2008). Since BPA has a fast metabolism rate (half-life time ,6 h) (National Toxicology Program, 2008), this finding suggests a continuous exposure to BPA in the US population.”

At increased risk are workers in plants where exposure to BPA might be present.

The adverse sexual dysfunctions identified in men included problems getting or maintaining an erection, orgasmic difficulties, decrease or loss of sexual desire and overall dissatisfaction with sex life.

The article though fairly extensive emphasizes the need for further study.